"In the fall of 2020, Rosmarie Wydler-Wälti boarded a white Greenpeace boat,
the Beluga, in Basel, Switzerland, and rode it down the Rhine River to the
European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. The 71-year-old educator
is the co-president of a group of nearly 2,000 women who call themselves the
Climate Seniors, and in her luggage was the announcement of a 149-page lawsuit
that could make history.
With it, the gray-haired grannies (average age: 73) accuse the leaders of their
native Switzerland of failing to take adequate measures to stop climate change.
According to the lawsuit, this negligence puts seniors like them at heightened
risk for heatstroke. “The problem is our government,” Wydler-Wälti says on the
phone from her home near Basel. “They are not doing nearly enough and aren’t
living up to their responsibility to protect our health, especially elderly
women. We are suffering disproportionally.”
The Climate Seniors took their case to Strasbourg after Swiss courts declined
to hear it. “They said it is not yet proven that the climate will warm more
than 1.5 degrees Celsius, and we’d still have time to sue then,” Wydler-Wälti
says. “By the time the planet is too hot, we’ll all be dead or incapacitated.
We have to act now.” As if to prove her point, one of the plaintiffs died of a
heart attack this summer.
Wydler-Wälti hopes the courts can force governments to treat climate change as
the emergency that it is and take steps to stop it immediately. She is not
alone: Last year 2020, six young Portuguese activists filed a similarly
structured lawsuit at the Strasbourg Court against 33 European states, claiming
the climate crisis endangered their future. Both lawsuits want to force
politicians to keep climate warming under 1.5 degrees, the goal agreed upon in
the Paris Climate Agreement. The lawsuits don’t demand specific measures, just
that the governments take sufficient action to reach that goal."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics